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The Denisenkos and their four children fled the conflict in eastern Ukraine last fall. But the warm welcome they had been promised in Russia never materialized. Instead, the family is facing hostility, unemployment, and crushing poverty. They now desperately want to return home.
Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny pulled no punches in his comments on President Vladimir Putin and his role in the war in Ukraine during a May 28 interview. Speaking with RFE/RL and VOA in Moscow, Navalny accused Putin of starting the conflict to strengthen his hold on power.
Wells are drying up in Armenia's Ararat Valley region, forcing locals to struggle for resources. Many say that the nearby fish farms are consuming an unfair share of the region's water. But they fear that any complaints would be quashed by the powerful politicians who own the fisheries.
RFE/RL has recorded dramatic evidence of the cease-fire in Ukraine being violated, with pro-government forces coming under sustained shelling in the village of Shyrokyne. The attack, filmed on May 24, resulted in one Ukrainian soldier dying of shrapnel wounds and another being wounded.
The funeral has been held of prominent Ukrainian separatist commander Aleksei Mozgovoi, who was killed in a mysterious gangland-style hit on May 23. The May 27 funeral was attended by members of his unit, the Ghost battalion, and residents in rebel-held Alchevsk.
RFE/RL has recorded dramatic evidence of the cease-fire in Ukraine being violated, with pro-government forces coming under sustained shelling in the village of Shyrokyne from heavy weapons that Ukrainian officials say should have been withdrawn under the cease-fire terms.
A Russian pensioner has won a three-year battle to force transport authorities in her region to provide free toilet facilities. Svetlana Ivanovna’s struggle began after she literally wrestled with an irate cashier in a toilet cubicle – but ended with piles of documentary evidence in a court of law.
The island of Gotland is a sleepy Swedish outpost in the Baltic Sea, but it holds enormous strategic value. Military commanders say that if a conflict erupted in the Baltic States, control over Gotland would mean control of the entire region.
At the EU summit in Riga, Latvia, there was an open petition in support of full EU membership for Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. Activists presented the sheets of signatures to EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn, who promised to take them home and read them.
In the Latvian capital, Riga, European Union leaders were gathering for a summit with their counterparts from six eastern countries. Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia, are all seeking stronger ties with the EU – while Belarus, Armenia and Azerbaijan are closer to Russia.
High in the Hindu Kush Mountains of northwest Pakistan, a small tribe clings to an ancient pre-Islamic culture. Paler skinned than the other people in the region, some claim the Kalash are descendants of soldiers who marched through the area under Alexander the Great more than 2,000 years ago.
European Council President Donald Tusk has said Russian propaganda is a problem in Eastern and also Western Europe, but that the truth will overcome it. Speaking to RFE/RL's Rikard Jozwiak in Brussels, he drew a parallel with how the Soviet propaganda machine was unable to win during the Cold War.
In the final video from Janyl Jusupjan's series of short films about the lives of ethnic Kyrgyz in the town of Jerge-Tal in northern Tajikistan, we meet Gulnaz, a housewife and mother who decided to leave and try her luck in Kyrgyzstan.
A group of volunteers has secured approval and financial backing from the Ukrainian authorities to train snipers for the army at a military base near the southern port of Mikolayiv. The conditions are far from perfect: some of the weapons are older than the men using them.
In Belgrade, rival demonstrators rallied over a court decision overturning the 1946 conviction of a Serbian nationalist commander whose forces fought Josip Broz Tito’s communist partisans. General Dragoljub “Draza” Mihailovic was executed after a communist court ruled he collaborated with the Nazis.
Any Russian submarines probing Swedish waters may now encounter an unusual welcome. A Swedish peace organization has created an underwater sign with a sailor thrusting his hips which beeps out a Morse code signal saying, "This way if you're gay."
In Artemivsk, work on defenses against an expected attack from Russian-backed separatists has been delayed by months – and volunteers digging trenches say the mayor is trying to sabotage the work.
Events are being held in many countries to mark 70 years since the end of World War II in Europe on May 8, 1945, but in fact the last large-scale engagement of the conflict began three days after the Nazi capitulation. More than a thousand people, mostly German soldiers, were killed.
An Afghan court has sentenced four men to death for participating in the mob killing of a young woman named Farkhunda in Kabul in March. Following the verdict, RFE/RL's Afghan Service spoke to Farkhunda's father and brother, who said that justice had not been served.
Ukrainian veteran Ivan Zaluzhniy has witnessed the tragedies of two wars separated by seven decades. He served in the Soviet Red Army and fought in Stalingrad, the deadliest battle of World War II. In August 2014, Zaluzhniy's grandson, also a soldier, was killed in fighting in eastern Ukraine.
At around 1 p.m. local time on May 3, a column of six Ural trucks pulling howitzers was filmed driving through central Donetsk, heading toward the north of the separatist-held city. (RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service)
In another from Janyl Jusupjan's series of short films about the lives of ethnic Kyrgyz in the town of Jerge-Tal in northern Tajikistan, we meet Saifaridin, an elderly man who fled Jerge-Tal during Tajikistan's civil war in the 1990s.
A Bosnian Muslim businessman has discovered what are believed to be the remains of a 13th-century Franciscan church in his back garden – and now intends to have it rebuilt. Husein Smajic stumbled across the foundations and other relics of the church while digging an artificial lake.
As civilians have fled war-torn areas of eastern Ukraine, they've left behind their homes, their possessions, and sometimes their dogs and cats. Hundreds of these abandoned animals have wound up at a shelter on the outskirts of Kyiv, where a small staff is working hard to feed and house the strays.
The cousin of the man who killed a policeman and injured two others in Bosnia's eastern Serb Republic has said Islamist militants "messed with his head." The attacker, who was killed in the incident, has been identified as 24-year-old Nerdin Ibric.
In another from Janyl Jusupjan's series of short films about the lives of ethnic Kyrgyz in the town of Jerge-Tal in northern Tajikistan, we meet Latofat, the only female singer in her village, whose mother was Kyrgyz and father was Tajik.
The Ukrainian armed forces have been unable to hold on to large swathes of territory, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says they need to be rebuilt from scratch. This week, U.S. trainers began training the Ukrainian National Guard, and Georgian forces are also running training operations.
As Armenia marks the 100th anniversary of the 1915 massacres of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, the descendants of survivors are coming forward to tell their family histories. RFE/RL's Armenian Service spoke to the "hidden Armenians" who ancestors converted to Islam to escape persecution.
Sergei Guriyev, a prominent economist, left Russia permanently in 2013 after coming under investigation by Moscow authorities. Guriyev spoke with Iolanda Badilita of RFE/RL's Moldovan Service in Strasbourg on April 21 about the extent to which corruption cripples Russia's economy.
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite is a vocal critic of the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin and its influence in its neighbors' affairs. On a visit to Chisinau, Grybauskaite spoke with Mihaela Gherasim of RFE/RL's Moldovan Service Moldova can confront pressure from Moscow.
A fragile cease-fire monitored by the OSCE in the southeastern Ukrainian village of Shyrokyne collapsed after just three days of quiet. Correspondent Zinaida Burskaya of RFE/RL’s Current Time TV was with volunteer fighters of the Ukrainian Azov Battalion as renewed fighting broke out on April 18.
Ukraine has officially welcomed U.S. troops at a military base near the western city of Lviv. The April 20 ceremony marked the beginning of exercises named “Fearless Guardian-2015,” in which around 300 soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade will train some 900 Ukrainian National Guard servicemen.
The town of Debaltseve, in eastern Ukraine, fell to a Russian-backed separatist assault shortly after the Minsk cease-fire agreements were signed in February. The few people who remained have experienced looting, buried bodies being dug up, and bread queues controlled by gunmen.
In Armenia, U.S. rapper Kanye West staged an impromptu concert to round off a visit to the capital, Yerevan. At the end of the concert, West jumped into a pond – followed by excited fans.
West was visiting the country with his wife, TV celebrity Kim Kardashian – who is of Armenian descent.
U.S. reality TV stars Kim and Khloe Kardashian visited the "Mother Armenia" monument in Yerevan on April 9. The celebrity sisters are shooting part of their TV show in Armenia, the home of their great-grandparents.
In July 1941, thousands of Jews were forced to move into a ghetto in Chisinau, the capital of present-day Moldova. Today, the history of that era is not well known to the people who live there. This film by RFE/RL's Moldovan Service seeks to reveal the fates of some of those who survived the ghetto.
Smoke was seen rising from buildings in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e Sharif on April 9 after three gunmen stormed the regional prosecutor's office. Police said the armed men exchanged fire with security forces, killing three police officers and leaving some 27 people wounded.
U.S. TV personality Kim Kardashian arrived in Yerevan late on April 8, accompanied by her husband, rapper Kanye West, their daughter, North West, and Kim's sister Khloe Kardashian. Journalists and fans surrounded the family at the airport and outside their hotel in the city center.
Some 200 members of the Yazidi religious minority arrived in Kirkuk on April 8 after they were released from captivity by the Islamic State militant group. Those freed were mainly women, elderly people, and people with disabilities.
In an interview with Germany's ARD television in 2008, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that Moscow recognizes all of Ukraine's borders, and that there is no issue of ethnic conflict in Crimea. His comments stand in stark contrast with Moscow's annexation of Crimea in 2014.
The conflict in eastern Ukraine has left some areas riddled with mines and mortars even after the combatants have moved on to other battlefields. A team of sappers is working to clear the minefields, a dangerous job that requires courage, patience, and the assistance of a Labrador retriever.
Ljubinka Nikolic, a geologist from Serbia, has been pre-selected to take part in a Dutch initiative to establish the first human colony on Mars. Despite mounting criticism of the project, Nikolic is thrilled about the prospect of pioneering space travel to Mars and of taking a one-way trip.
An acute shortage of medicines has been reported in areas of eastern Ukraine held by Russian-backed separatists. Many pharmacies are closed, and hospitals are unable to care for patients with some serious conditions. In areas controlled by the government, health services are also feeling the strain.
Czechs have laid on a farewell concert in honor of the U.S. Army, capping three days of events as the 2nd Cavalry Regiment made its way across the country on the way back to base in Germany. (RFE/RL)
More than two decades ago, a photographer captured Sarajevo resident Meliha Varesanovic walking proudly in high heels and pearls as soldiers traded fire nearby. The image struck a chord with viewers around the world, becoming a symbol of dignity amidst the tragedies of the Bosnian war.
The brutal mob killing in Kabul of a woman named Farkhunda has shocked Afghanistan. As thousands have taken to the streets to demand justice, her family and friends are mourning privately. RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan spoke to those who remember Farkhunda as a kind and pious young woman.
A prison in eastern Ukraine was abandoned by the guards when the area was captured by Russian-backed separatists, leaving the inmates to fend for themselves. Some took the opportunity to run away. But many others stayed – and are now baking bread for local people.
What prompted Saudi Arabia's decision to get involved in the conflict in Yemen with air strikes targeting Huthi rebels? Mardo Soghom, RFE/RL's regional director for Iran and Iraq, says that Saudi Arabia sees Iran's growing influence in the region and fears losing control of oil routes.
The Daily Vertical is a video primer for Russia-watchers that appears Monday through Friday. Viewers can suggest topics via Twitter @PowerVertical or on the Power Vertical Facebook page.
Perm-36 is a memorial museum to Soviet repressions on the site of the world's only preserved gulag camp. Local historians who founded the museum have been replaced at the helm by a state organization. The ousted historians now fear the change of management means Soviet crimes will be whitewashed.
John Kopiski came from Britain to Russia to do business, but after meeting his Russian wife he decided to stay. Now, after many struggles, he has established a successful farm business. He has also become a staunch fan of Vladimir Putin – and Stalin.
Gulnara Karimova, daughter of Uzbek President Islam Karimov, may have raked in as much as $1 billion via bribery, extortion and exploiting her position - according to a report by the Sarajevo-based Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. RFE/RL spoke to the OCCRP's Miranda Patrucic.
A Kyrgyz military reserve officer has told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service about his seven months of service as a mercenary in the ranks of the Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. Manas Mambetov alleges Russian troops are increasingly replacing local and mercenary fighters in the region.
Since Crimea's annexation from Ukraine a year ago, the vast majority of local residents have taken Russian citizenship. Those who chose to remain Ukrainian are grappling with a number of new difficulties. (RFE/RL's Russian Service)
In parts of Tajikistan, marriage between cousins is common -- and doctors say that the custom leads to higher incidences of genetic abnormalities in those couples' children. RFE/RL's Tajik Service spoke to doctors and patients' relatives at a hospital in the Khatlon region.
More than 1,000 Ukrainian soldiers and volunteers have died fighting pro-Russian insurgents in eastern Ukraine. Many left behind wives and children. Local charities are playing a key role in helping these families overcome financial hardship and coping with their loss. (RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service)
Hundreds of bodies are being buried in eastern Ukraine without being identified. On the separatist side, officials say they don't have the resources to cope with the sheer volume of bodies – which were found lining the corridors at the central morgue in Donetsk.
The Russian Federation annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea on March 21, 2014. The move, which went mostly unrecognized around the world, followed a Crimean referendum on joining Russia that was widely condemned as illegal. We look at the varying views on the past year's developments.
A banner at a recent protest by Russia’s pro-Kremlin “Anti-Maidan” movement plumbed new depths – with a play on words suggesting supporters of democracy had Down syndrome. The banner caused outrage among families and activists who have been working to change prejudices surrounding the condition.
The conflict in Ukraine has seen fierce battles with thousands of casualties. The overwhelming majority of combatants are men -- but not all of them. Shahida Yakub from RFE/RL's Current Time (www.currenttime.tv) program profiles two women serving in uniform on opposing sides of the front lines.
This weekend's detention of five suspects in the assassination of Boris Nemtsov looks suspiciously convenient for the Kremlin.
Gulrukhsor Rofieva took a job at a hospital in Yemen with the hope of saving money to buy a house in Tajikistan. Her dream turned into a nightmare when she was kidnapped by militants and held for ransom.
The battle for Donetsk airport was some of the fiercest in the Ukrainian war so far. After 242 days, the Ukrainian government forces retreated from the ruined terminal buildings at the end of January. Now, each day, bodies are recovered from the ruins.
A look at family life in Afghan prisons for female convicts, where children up to the age of seven live with mothers serving terms for crimes ranging from drug smuggling to adultery.
The Ferghana Valley in Central Asia has for years been a hotbed for drugs, smuggling, and Islamic extremism. One of the most densely populated areas of the region, it has now become fertile ground for Islamic State militants.
Russia has repeatedly denied Western accusations its troops are in Ukraine, but it has admitted the presence of volunteers fighting on the side of separatists there. RFE/RL Current Time program gained rare access to two nationalist organizations in St Petersburg which have sent men to fight.
The Daily Vertical is a video primer for Russia-watchers that will appear Monday through Friday. Viewers can submit suggested topics to address on Twitter @PowerVertical or on the Power Vertical Facebook page.
The killing of Boris Nemtsov has sparked sadness and anger. But many fear that -- as in other high-profile cases -- the people behind his murder will never be charged.
In the wake of the Taliban massacre at a school in Peshawar, authorities in northwest Pakistan have given teachers permission to carry guns to school. Some teachers have balked at the new policy, warning that weapons in the classroom could have a negative psychological impact on their students.
The village of Perelogi, north of Moscow, was on the verge of dying out -- until Tajik families, fleeing civil war at home, started arriving in the 1990s.
The 2014 Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi cost tens of billions of dollars. But for those who live and work in the Black Sea resort, there are other, hidden costs. One year after the Games, migrant laborers are still fighting for the back wages, as residents take stock of the damage.
Ukrainian military forces have retreated from the town of Debaltseve, which has been under siege by pro-Russian separatists. Correspondent Levko Stek of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service spoke to the soldiers outside Debaltseve after they left the town in the control of rebel fighters.
A look at the events of February 18-21, 2014, when antigovernment protests in central Kyiv descended into deadly violence.
Fawad Mohammadi has had an incredible life: plucked from the obscurity of selling maps on the streets of Kabul to star in an Oscar-nominated movie, his life also inspired a British novelist. He is now studying at one of Kabul's top schools -- his days as a street child long behind him.
To supplement his wages, Kyrgyz teacher Murat Duisheev braves sub-zero temperatures in his spare time to pan for gold in a nearby river.
At Tajik universities, Chinese courses are filled to the limit with students eager to learn the language of their powerful neighbor. Many are hoping that growing Chinese investment in Tajikistan will mean new job opportunities in a struggling economy. (Barotali Nazarov, RFE/RL's Tajik Service)
Border towns in southern Hungary have seen a dramatic rise in the number of migrants illegally crossing into the EU state from neighboring Serbia, which recently eased its travel restrictions. The majority of the migrants are Kosovars, who are escaping from poverty and mass unemployment back home.
People fleeing the fighting in eastern Ukraine recalled what they had gone through, after arriving at government-controlled Slovyansk railway station. In interviews filmed on the station platform on February 2, IDPs spoke of fear, lack of sleep, and constant firing. (RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service)
Officials in northwest Pakistan have revised school textbooks to make them more Islamic -- no unveiled women, references to world historical figures replaced with prominent Muslims, and Koranic verses about jihad.
The majority of injured separatist fighters from eastern Ukraine are treated in Russia. But their treatment is not always organized officially. In the border regions of Russia, there are informal clinics and rehabilitation centers organized by the separatists.
Ukrainian forces are helping civilians flee the town of Debaltseve, which has been hit by heavy shelling amid ongoing clashes. Servicemen also brought in bread supplies for residents who are unable or unwilling to leave.
The town of Debaltseve has been caught in the crossfire between Ukrainian military forces and separatist fighters for more than two weeks. Many residents have fled, and those who remain are struggling to survive as food supplies dwindle and the fighting draws closer.
Avdiyivka, just north of Donetsk, has been shelled by both sides of the conflict between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists. There are no soldiers in the town, and many inhabitants have also left.
In recent days, Russian-backed separatists have been advancing in eastern Ukraine. As fighting with Ukrainian forces intensifies, indiscriminate shelling has caused dozens of civilian casualties, as well as damaging homes and other property.
Mykola Karpenko was just 17 when he was drafted into the Soviet Army from his village in Ukraine. His unit was among those that freed the prisoners of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland on January 27, 1945. (RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service)
Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life.
Afghan authorities have recently captured a number of young men who were apparently planning to carry out suicide bombings. The National Directorate of Security (NDS), the country's spy agency, presented several thwarted bombers to the media in Kabul.
Winter in Kazakhstan can be harsh – especially without heating. Sholpan Saymova’s family home was declared to be in an "emergency condition” in 2010 – but the repairs led to a nightmare that left them at turns freezing cold, hospitalized, and battling local bureaucracy.
Twelve children in the western Kazakh village of Berezovka suddenly collapsed or fell ill on January 21. They are only the latest of some 100 cases of the mysterious illness in recent months.
With the end of NATO's combat mission in Afghanistan, Iran has been tightening its grip on the western part of the country. Nowhere is the Islamic republic’s influence more visible than in the city of Herat, which has deep historical ties to Iran.
Some 25,000 people marched in Dresden on January 12 to protest against what they called the “Islamization” of Germany. Now a weekly event, the protest gained additional participants in the wake of last week's terror attacks in Paris.
Bitter divisions are deepening in the German city of Dresden following another night of mass demonstrations. German police say 25,000 people took to the streets to protest against what they call the “Islamization” of Germany – the highest number yet.
In the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, the international airport is on the front lines of the separatist conflict. Government troops and pro-Russian separatists have each taken up positions in the destroyed airport buildings and are fighting for control of the strategic site.
In December, a family in eastern Ukraine was torn apart by conflict. Baby Nika and her brother Vitya lost their mother and their home in a shell attack. The children's aunt is now taking care of them and her own young children as they struggle to put their lives back together.
For months, the airport in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, has been the scene of heavy fighting between Ukrainian troops and separatist rebels. RFE/RL Ukrainian Service correspondents joined a late-night supply run bringing gasoline and other essentials to the fighters at the airport.
The cautionary tale of one young ethnic Uzbek migrant worker from Kyrgyzstan.
Ivan, a novice monk, was inspired by the experiences of wounded fighters to leave the safety of his monastery and join a volunteer paramilitary battalion in Ukraine's Donetsk region. Now training with his unit for potential combat, Ivan believes the church stands behind his decision.
It was the most tumultuous year in Ukraine's history since World War II, and Levko Stek of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service followed it with his camera every step of the way. From the squares of Kyiv, to the seizing of Crimea, and the war that followed in Donbas, Stek was everywhere.
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